Foodie Friday: Erin Haslag of WELL in L.A.
This week I have the pleasure of introducing you to the gorgeous Erin Haslag from WELL in L.A. – a blog I have been stalking for some time now. Erin is a writer, designer and wellness lover. She works with wellness and lifestyle brands (small businesses, coaches, trainers and personalities) to develop their business and brand. She loves all things wellness and has been reading books on the topic of nutrition since the age of 16.
Meet Erin …
What was the catalyst that turned you into a healthy foodie?
As a high school athlete, I started to become aware of the mind-body-food connection (not that I was savvy enough to call it that at the age of 16!). To the casual observer I had a thin build, a typical teen’s speedy metabolism and could get by with eating junk food. I started to notice what I was eating impacted my running time and how alert or tired I felt in school. Nodding off in classes or feeling like I needed a nap before practice was not okay.
I had limited information on healthy diets and eating. I grew up in a rural, Midwestern United States town. Obesity, cancer and heart disease are sadly not uncommon health problems in my hometown. I had my work cut out for me. I found books at my local library and tried to better understand nutrition labels and government food guidelines with my teenage brain. I thought I would be healthy if everything I ate was low-fat, fat-free or sugar free – those were the culprits in the American diet, right?
The first book that really changed my relationship with food was Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. I earnestly read about the right kind of calories, how to fuel my body and why I needed healthy fats. I began to take my diet seriously in college when I was buying, cooking and eating foods for myself.
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to your diet?
No dairy. No trans-fats. No processed foods. No white bread. Michael Pollan’s adage “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead” from Food Rules is permanently lodged in my brain!
This year I adhered to vegetarian, vegan and raw diets for the months of July, August and September, respectively. A little self-imposed experiment to find out how my body functions on a more strict set of dietary guidelines. This experience has dramatically changed my relationship with food.
I no longer want chicken, pork or red meat in my diet. I do find my body wants eggs and seafood, so those will stay in my diet for now. The biggest shift has been creating entirely plant-based meals instead of creating a meal around meat as the centrepiece.
Why do you eat the way you eat?
I eat the way I eat to have energy, extend my life and feel my best every day. I know that I am what I eat (or a reflection of what I eat). It impacts everything, from my sleep to my skin.
Every meal we eat and the foods we choose should be conscious, deliberate choices.
If you were trying to convert someone to your dietary philosophy, what would you make for them?
In my month of eating vegan I wanted to tackle enchiladas. Living in Los Angeles I have access to great ethnic markets and farmers markets. I made spicy cashew cheese, a killer sauce and stuffed it with seasoned kale. I invited several “I only eat meat” friends over for dinner, not telling them it was a vegan dish. They loved it! So that would be my new ‘conversion’ dish!
How do you stay healthy while travelling?
I used to travel throughout the U.S. and coast-to-coast an average of 2-3 times per month for work and personal trips. I would pack at least one piece of fitness equipment, like a yoga mat or jump rope in the event the hotel gym wasn’t so great or getting outside for a workout wasn’t possible with my schedule. I relied on combination of podcasts, videos and live-stream classes for workouts.
On the food side, I always pack a raw trail mix and drink lots of water when traveling. I stick as closely as possible to my normal eating patterns when dining out, choosing lots of freshly prepared vegetables and salads. Staying hydrated is also key. I tend to drink more water when traveling than I normally do in my daily life.
What are your go-to meals and snacks when you are super busy?
Raw almonds are always around. I’m more of a savoury snack person so I usually have things like sprouted wraps, seaweed and avocados on hand which can be configured together in various ways. I also have a few go-to bars and vegan protein powders on hand for those times stopping for food isn’t an option.
Juices or smoothies: Which do you prefer? What’s your favourite combination?
Ohhhhh… this is tough! I tend to want smoothies when it’s warm outside or too hot to cook. Smoothies can be packed with superfoods, fruits, veggies and healthy fats to be a full meal, which makes them awesome. Otherwise I’m more of a juice girl, starting my mornings with a juice of some kind before the day gets started.
What’s the biggest nutrition misconception you are always having to clear up for people?
That eating healthy means giving up foods you love. I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing. In fact I feel like I’m indulging more eating whole-foods and a mostly plant-based diet. I eat such a wide variety of foods I feel pretty spoiled and lucky to have a healthy relationship with food and my body. Eating healthy simplifies my relationship with food. I never have nor will count calories!
If you could prepare a meal for anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and what would you make?
I would want to prepare a gorgeous, delicious vegan or raw meal for Anthony Bourdain. I adore his writing, personality, approach to culture and food. But I think he’s biased when it comes to eating veggie and vegan!
What I would cook for him… Raw Pad Thai. The recipe from Natalia Rose is better than any Pad Thai I’ve ever had – meatless or vegetarian – in my life.
What does being a Wellness Warrior mean to you?
Being a Wellness Warrior means leading by example and supporting our peers in the wellness community. Our collective actions and collaboration add power to our words and messages.
A Recipe From Erin:
ASPARAGUS & VEGGIES OVER QUINOA
What you’ll need:
1 cup of quinoa
1 and 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 cloves of garlic (or less if you’re not a big garlic lover)
1/2 a purple onion
1 bunch of asparagus
1/2 pint of portobello mushrooms
1 to 1/2 cup of peas
1 tsp of finely chopped mint or basil
Paprika, salt and pepper to taste
What to do:
1. Cook the quinoa according to instructions.
2. Steam the peas for 2 minutes if frozen; once chilled combine with 1tsp of mint or basil.
3. Chop all the veggies into 1-2″ pieces (roughly all the same size). Cube the tofu.
4. Warm the coconut oil on high. Add the tofu and sprinkle with paprika.
5. Brown the tofu on all sides (2-3 minutes per side).
6. Begin to add in the mixed veggies and stir around with the tofu and coconut oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion begins to get a little golden around the edges.
7. Mix in the garlic, warming until fragrant and a little browned (1-2 minutes).
8. Add in the peas and stir until everything is combined and warmed.
9. Dish up! 1/2 cup quinoa piled with as much of the veggie mix as you like!
Yield: 1-2 servings
WELL in L.A. Social Media Sites + Links
Positive affirmation for the day: I am in control of the meaning I give to my circumstances.
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